Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Adventures with a can of white paint

It all started when I was looking for a decent Studebaker Golden Hawk with the Mechanical motor. I came across this odd model selling at nearly £500.  

It is claimed to be something Corgi did to make use of a pile of white 211 units when the Mechanical motor element was discontinued in 1959. They are supposed to have put the white 211 body on a 211S base and sent them off to foreign dealers in 211 boxes. This one had 'Blanche' written on the end of the box, ostensibly by the dealer on the basis that the seller says it was old stock from a French shop. The story sort of hangs together and gains extra creedence from QDT who have auctioned a couple of these in the past and their text includes a paragraph saying pretty much the same but without the writing on the box and introducing us to a store in Mexico where theirs was deemed to have originated.

Now, call me overly suspicious if you like, but I do have doubts about all this. Initially, the thickness of the paint and the use of a 211S base - yet stating that the model has no suspension - aroused my dubious mind. I decided at that time that someone was having us on and was looking for some rich collector in Dortmund or Denmark who might not miss £500 on a Thursday.

So I hatched a plan to create a near identical model and, using the same keywords, put mine on Ebay for £5 instead of £500 in the hope that people searching would find both mine and this other one side by side! If anything it might make others think twice and probably annoy the seller. I am not normally as devious or aggressive but the £500 price tag bothered me if it was a concocted model.

Finding the QDT models, though, made me think again and I calmed down a bit but I still decided to make my own model. I just wouldn't bother with the box, membership slip and all that jazz just yet.

I had an old Studebaker 211 model that I'd rescued and sprayed black a while ago so that was relatively easy to change into a much more attractive, as it happens, white. I struggled with the gold stripe a bit but it's not a bad effort. My hand isn't as steady as it used to be.

The windows were cracked so I bought a 211S for £2 and extracted the clear window unit from that. It cleaned up nicely but if ever you set about replacing Studebaker windows, take care. they are a tight fit and the rear window needs to snap into place correctly. The pressure can cause problems if you're a little over-enthusiastic at this stage! It's also a good idea to glue them into place too as the front can still slip and it looks horrible then. Anyway, so far, so good.

I also now had a reasonably decent 211s base which I could use. Well, could I? Er, the 211S has suspension. The wires are embedded and held in place by a riveted cross-piece of metal. Even if you break that off and take away the wires the axles would rattle up and down in their guides. The base is quite different from the 211. Even though the rivet holes are in the same places, the 211S base would need substantial adjustment to make it 'without suspension' as advertised. I cannot imagine why Corgi would have wanted to be bothered with all that. They could simply use the normal, non-Mechanical 211M base and all would be well with the world. Or simply dump the white bodies and get on with selling the new shiny silver and gold ones which are far more likely to be desirable anyway. It just doesn't make sense to me at all. 

So I can't copy the £500 affair after all. But I will continue to complete the 211 in white without a motor because I have all the bits and it will look lovely and much better than the black one did too. 

I will publish some photos when it's ready. In the meantime here's a reasonable 211M I have recently acquired.

There is an even better one on its way from the States as I write too. That'll give me three original and working editions of this pretty scarce model. But no, you don't get a discount for quantity!

Now, I'd bought the white paint and had lots left. Just as well, due to two mistakes I made this week...

The first one was to leave links to an old restored Lotus Elan in my Avengers section of the web site. These sell really quickly, either for sets or individually, and I had run out of the white version. I have a couple of the silver blue editions but only a couple of original 318 Lotuses in stock. On my web site, though, there was an old page advertising a restored white one for a mere £45. I've been selling them for £50 or more for ages. And the £45 includes postage, dammit. The buyer, clearly pleased to have found it, bought and paid for it through PayPal instantly and that's when I saw I had a problem.

I did think about making a refund but I have just had to repair my real car and could do with the income so I set about making another one just for this guy. Fortunately, I had a bit of a wreck that had arrived last week and I managed to find all the parts that seem OK too. It just needs spraying so that's where the next lot of white paint went. That's drying away nicely and I hope to get that in the post in a couple of days. I'll do a photo of that too.

The second mistake was to place a bid via Goofbid and forget about it. I know, that's the beauty of Goofbid. You can place a whole pile of bids on first glances at things and then go back and, if you see something bad, delete them. You can't do that with Ebay itself.  I'd spotted three Monte Carlo models - the Rover, Citroen and Mini. I knew they weren't perfect and the Mini was the wrong one for the Gift set too but I like the Rover and if that was in reasonable condition then the £29 bid would be worth it for that alone. And, of course, I expected someone else would bid a whole pile more than that anyway. Goofbid would remind me that someone else had outbid me and then I'd decide whether to go higher or leave it.

As it happened, and you've gathered, no-one else did bid and I completely forgot about it until I get the 'You've Won' email! The parcel arrived today and inside were three rather sad models. The Rover had chips on the roof that had been really badly touched in as well as a crack in the rear window - a common fault where the Trans-o-lite unit fits. The Citroen was missing its aerial as just about all are anyway so that was not a big deal but the paintwork was pretty chipped and it had lost all its jewelled fog lamps. The worst was the Mini which had a sort of chrome lump where the fog lamp should be. Around the hole were many signs of someone having scraped away to try to rescue the lamp and the white roof was in a sorry state. However, the windows and red paintwork were excellent, as was the suspension and wheel condition.

They all need new transfers too! I was a bit dejected as I would simply have to sell them as they were and hope I might get my money back on the Rover and Citroen  but the Mini was a bigger problem and my first thought was that it was heading for the spares department.

I stared at the Rover for quite a while. I like these 322 models very much. I had the transfers. It was just the roof that let it down really. The crack was not at all bad or obvious. Hmmm. I have white paint. Why not? I thought. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I have never sprayed just a roof before. But I have lots of masking tape so I hid everything else on the car, sanded down the roof and sprayed it a nice white colour again.

I looked at the Mini. I fiddled with the bit of lamp that was visible. I twiddled it too. Ah, it began to emerge from the hole and with another tug and twist actually looked as if it were in about the right place again! The paint around the hole, though, was not good and I had contributed to the mess too. There were some other chips as well. OK, after the Rover practice I was feeling confident. Out came the sandpaper again and in a few minutes had a nice smooth surface. Masking tape everywhere, including a rather dainty job of covering the lamp without it falling back through and it was ready for the bathroom floor, covered in an old sheet, and the remnants of the spray can.

At this moment, the Rover and Mini look like extras on the set of The Mummy but the roofs do look smooth and, with a bit of luck, when the tape is removed, they'll be as good as new with a decent separation between red and white.

Again, photos will be coming soon.

The paint has now run out so this little story of my mistakes and attempts to cover them up as well as the Studebaker saga end too for the time being.

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